German Word of the Week: Kriegweinwirkung


Tomorrow I'll be in Cologne for a "business lunch," believe it or not. After enjoying some Koelnische Touristenblutwurst, I plan on visiting a few of the fine Romanesque churches in that city.

Being the Bildungsbuerger (building-burger) that I am, I perused the outstanding Wikipedia article (g) on the church (in fact, all of Cologne's Romanesque churches have great Wikipedia entries, and one even won a prize (g)).

In the paragraph on Glocken (which can mean bells or breasts, in this case most likely the former), I ran across this sentence: "Die ursprünglich kleine Glocke wurde durch Kriegweinwirkung zerstört, jedoch im gleichen Ton ihrer 1959 nachgegossen." The translation is: "The original small bell was destroyed by…", err, something called Kriegweinwirkung.

A close relative would be Kriegseinwirkung, which would mean "war damage." But what we have includes the word wein, which even non-German-powered can recognize as wine. Thus, we have a word which means, roughly, "the effects of war-wine."

Unfortunately, the Wikipedia article doesn't dwell on exactly how war-wine came to destroy the bell, although I imagine a little 'carbine practice' was involved.

Quote of the Day: Edward Bellamy

"[The average American] conceived of a socialist, when he considerd him at all, as a mysterious type of desperado, reputed to infest the dark places of continental Europe and engaged with his fellows in a conspiracy as monstrous as it was futile, against civilization and all that it implied."

Edward Bellamy, Introduction the American edition of Socialism: The Fabian Essays (1894).

Quote of the Day: Zbigniew Herbert

“The poet’s sphere of action, if he has a serious attitude toward his
work, is not the present, by which I mean the current state of
socio-political and scientific knowledge, but reality, man’s
stubborn dialogue with the concrete reality surrounding him, with this
stool, with that person, with this time of day—the cultivation of the
vanishing capacity for contemplation.”

Zbigniew Herbert, 1972 (via).

“Without any hills or robberies in the way”

DJ Hunee, who’s been dragged kicking and screaming into this blog before, on life in Berlin:

Hmm, its lovely – life in Berlin is cheap
overall, the summer is magic and filled with days at the lakes and
nights at the canal; flats are absolutely payable; very little crime
around – so it’s safe in most places; you can ride your bike to any
place in Berlin without any hills or robberies in the way; the food is
good; people are nicer than the grumpy stereotype; the clubs bring
interesting artists and pay them well.

Hunee’s Myspace page, with many choice sets to listen to and download, is here. A biography with about as much ‘factual information’ as you’d expect is here. And his blog, with plenty of music, here.

German Word of the Week: Touristenblutwurst


Loyal reader E. Philp was in Schleiz recently and noted this butcher shop sign for Touristenblutwurst, or "Tourists' blood sausage." This foodstuff, if we may call it that, is apparently an East German specialty, and its literally blood-curdling name routinely mystifies even other Germans (g). It belongs, with Presssack, to the family of German meat products composed of large chunks of cow or pig whose original biological functions are unsettlingly recognizable.

The general consensus seems to be that tourists' blood sausage is not actually made from the blood of tourists (although if it were, I'd prefer Brazilians, for obvious reasons). Yet, the butcher's behavior was anything but reassuring. Philp reports: "We entered the store to verify that yes, Touristenblutwurst was on sale. Ten minutes after we photographed this, the
sign was taken down – the butcher closed at 11 am on a Saturday!"

And really, how would you tell if it were tourist blood? Take it from me, there's no better way to ruin a romantic picnic in Schleiz than by spitting out moist chunks of congealed tourist blood onto your significant other's flimsy burnoose and proclaiming: "Good God, I recognize the all-too-familiar taste of boiled human blood. It's made of people. Touristenblutwurst…is…people!"

Sock-Emperor and Button-King

After the Compromise of 1867, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was ruled by an Monarch who was called kaiserlich und koeniglich (Imperial and Royal, signifying an office with the qualities of emperor and king in a mystical melting-together called Personalunion). The Empire (g) comprised, at various times, what is now the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, and bits of many other nations. The western parts of the empire carried the k.u.k. designation (g) until 1918. The alliteration of the two 'K's led the Austrian writer Robert Musil to invent the designation Kakania, or Kakanien in German, a neologism which is still in use (g). Here is a translation of Musil's description of 'Kakania' in The Man Without Qualities.

Now, you might think that with the death of Emperor Franz Joseph in1916 and the collapse of the Austo-Hungarian Empire, the Austrians might have lost their taste for emperors and kings. Weit gefehlt/au contraire, not bloody likely! While strolling through the pedestrian zone in Meidling, Vienna, I found a Sockenkaiser (Sock Emperor) and a Knopfenkoenig (Button-King) ruling not 200 meters from one another, in perfect harmony:

038 Sock Emperor has Good Cheap Socks

The Button King of Meidling

I think it's time for the Sock Emperor and the Button King to join in a discreet Personalunion.

All the ‘Tatort’ Cliches…

…in one handy list here (g), from secretaries with funny regional accents to fat men eating sausage in front of a river to boarding schools full of scheming scions of wealth neglected by their rich parents. As with so many aspects of German life, the appeal of Tatort lies not in the fact that it's entertaining and original, but precisely in that it's comforting and familiar.

This cultural trait also makes the writer's job much easier. Coming up with original ideas (especially in a decades-old series) is risky, and beyond the capacity of many people. But churning out familiar variations on well-worn themes is child's play. Come to think of it, I'm sure you could take this list and program a computer to write perfectly serviceable Tatort scripts. Hmm, that gives me an idea…

It occurs to me that there must be some reasonably good Tatort parodies out there. Little help?